Parkwood High Softball Team Goes Perfect in RCC

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Parkwood High School will enter the Class 2A Softball Championships as one of the hottest teams in the state.

Parkwood will take an 11-game winning streak into the state championships and the Rebels faced Wilkes Central May 10 in the first round. Parkwood, as long as it keeps winning, could host additional tournament games.

After going 10-0 in the Rocky River Conference regular season the Rebels won the post-season conference tournament with a pair of 9-0 victories. Parkwood is 18-2 overall on the year and the Rebels picked up victories this season over Southern Carolina Conference members Weddington, Cuthbertson and Piedmont.

The Rebels two losses are to SCC Tournament champion Marvin Ridge (8-5) and to Buford High (4-3) in Lancaster, S.C. Parkwood defeated Buford 4-2 at home.

Parkwood coach Tim Speakman, who is in his first year as the Rebels head coach, said that assistant coaches Toby Ruth and Mary Hughes have played big roles this season.

“What we are pleased with the most with the players is the progress that they have made from the beginning the year to right now,” said Parkwood head coach Tim Speakman. “I can’t speak enough about my assistant coaches and their help. The girls are willing to listen and they are coachable.”

Speakman said a strong nonconference schedule as well as playing against top-notch competition in the RRC has prepared the team for the postseason.

“Beating Buford and Cuthbertson and Piedmont, those are good teams,” Speakman said. “Cuthbertson is one of the better teams around here. Piedmont is another top team around here. They are solid through the entire lineup.”

Thanks to the strong pitching of Caroline Ruth and a solid defense, Parkwood has shutout opponents seven times this season. Ruth is 16-2 on the year after winning both RRC Tournament games.

“Caroline Ruth’s pitching is outstanding right now,” Speakman said. “That is not surprising because of her work ethic. She works so hard at her craft. She has been very open to my coaching. Sometimes when a new coach comes in there is some resistance. But she has been very open to my coaching.”

Speakman said the defense is one of the Rebels strengths.

“We are really playing very good defense,” Speakman said. “I think we are peaking at the right time.”

Offensively, Parkwood is getting production up-and-down the lineup. The Rebels defeated Forest Hills (10-0) and West Stanly (10-0) to win the conference tournament. Parkwood has scored 10 or more runs 11 times this season and twice they have scored more than 20 runs in a game.

Ruth and Bailey Morton each had home runs in both the Rebels conference tournament wins while Sarah Harkins had a home run in the win against West Stanly. Morton has seven home runs of the year while Ruth and Chole Hardy have four home runs each. Hawkins is batting .500 on the season.

“At the beginning of the year, we talked about the mental part of hitting and pitch counts,” Speakman said. “We have got so much better at the mental approach. Our pitch selection has been so much better. We have some girls in the lineup that are tough outs. We have some girls at the bottom of the lineup that could be hitting at the top of the lineup.”

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at